Review by Jack Foley
HAVING portrayed a Disney princess and a nun in, respectively, Enchanted and Doubt, Amy Adams was ripe for something a little more edgy.
Sunshine Cleaning, an enjoyable new indie comedy from the producers of Little Miss Sunshine, does just that, as well as providing another reminder of her immense talent.
Add in strong support from Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin, as well as some engaging direction from Christine Jeffs, and you have all the ingredients for a minor classic.
Adams and Blunt play sisters Rose and Norah Lorkowski, two blue-collar siblings whose life is going nowhere until they embark on a new business cleaning up the aftermath of crime scenes.
As they get to grips with the messiness of their newfound day-to-day, however, they also begin to get their own lives in order. For Rose, that means sorting out her hopeless relationship with a married detective (Steve Zahn) and coping with her son (Jason Spevack) and dad (Arkin), while for Norah it’s just taking some responsibility.
Sunshine Cleaning thrives on the chemistry between Adams and Blunt, while simultaneously benefiting from its unique scenario.
The crime scene element, while underplayed and by no means gratuitous, also lends the comedy an edginess that makes it feel more real.
Adams and Blunt are believable sisters and clearly enjoy being in each other’s company, while a strong support cast ensures that every character shines in some way. Arkin, meanwhile, proves there is currently nobody better at playing a loveable, if cantankerous, older relative.
Jeffs deserves credit, too, for not allowing things to become too sentimental and for enabling her two leading ladies to really take centre-stage – she rewards them with two great sequences, a tressling scene for Blunt that’s beautifully delivered by both camera and star, and a one-way chat on a CB Radio that provides a genuinely poignant moment for Adams.
And while it’s a little too easy to refer to Sunshine Cleaning as this year’s feel-good indie charmer a la Little Miss Sunshine and Juno, it’s a comparison that ought to serve it well and deliver the size of audience it deserves. It’s a genuinely engaging experience.
Running time: 91mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: November 16, 2009